WASHINGTON–Members of Congress joined together on a bipartisan basis this evening to mark the 20th anniversary of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (Artsakh) freedom movement, at a Capitol Hill program headlined by prominent lawyer and humanitarian Mark Geragos, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
The evening, titled "Nagorno Karabakh Republic/Artsakh: 20 Years of Freedom, Democracy and Progress," was hosted by the Congressional Caucus of Armenian Issues in cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Armenia, the Nagorno Karabakh Representation in the U.S., and Armenian American organizations.
"As a community deeply devoted to Artsakh’s security, we are pleased to be joined by our Congressional friends at today’s Capitol Hill celebration of Nagorno Karabakh’s hard-won freedom," said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. "We take from this event an added measure of devotion to standing up against Azerbaijani and Caspian energy interests, increasing developmental aid to Nagorno Karabakh, zeroing-out military aid to Azerbaijan, and breaking down the artificial barriers to U.S.-Artsakh dialogue."
Throughout the evening, Members of Congress offered remarks congratulating Nagorno Karabakh — praising its commitment to democracy, peace and stability, and citing it as an example for other countries in the region. Congressional Armenian Caucus Co- Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), who served as Masters of Ceremony for the evening, offered moving remarks along with Reps. Shelly Berkley (D-NV), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Jim Costa (D-CA), Barney Frank (D-MA), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), George Radanovich (R-CA), Steven Rothman (D-NJ), Brad Sherman (D-CA), and Tim Walz (D-MN).
The event invocation was offered by His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, legate of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church of the Eastern U.S., while a special presentation on the Nagorno Karabakh liberation movement was made by His Eminence Archbishop Choloyan, Prelate of the Armenian Apostolic Church of Eastern U.S. In recognition of Congressional support for Artsakh, the Congressional Caucus Co-Chairs were given a special book of letters and drawing prepared by the children of Artsakh, presented by Nelly Martirosyan, who had recently spent over two months working with youth there.
In his keynote address, Geragos challenged Members of Congress to increase their support for Nagorno Karabakh, calling the $30 million in U.S. assistance allocated to date to Nagorno Karabakh insufficient, and asserting that this aid package, to a democratic nation in a troubled region, should be at least at the $100 million level.
Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tatoul Markarian and NKR Representative in the U.S. Vardan Barseghian provided insight on the current peace talks over Nagorno Karabakh and the ongoing commitment of both countries to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. A special video marking the 20th anniversary of the Artsakh movement, prepared by film-maker and documentary producer Peter Musurlian, highlighted the economic progress and strengthening of democracy in the Republic. The evening concluded with moving remarks by human rights activist Kathryn Porter, a frequent visitor to Artsakh who has shared trying and triumphant momen’s with the women of Artsakh during and after the conflict in the region.